Thursday, December 9

Schools estimate that several thousand employees are resistant to vaccines

Principals estimate that several thousand school personnel are resisting the government directive to receive at least their first Covid-19 vaccination by November 15.

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Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

They say some are presenting seemingly bogus exemption certificates that are causing confusion and are waiting for an official guide to throw them away.

School and early childhood personnel who have contact with children should receive their first vaccination in mid-November and be fully vaccinated by early January.

There is no official tally of how many teachers and other school personnel are vaccinated and how many have not even received their first injection.

Secondary Principals Association president Vaughan Couillault said anecdotally that it appeared that most high schools had a handful of roadblocks, suggesting there could be a couple thousand in that sector.

“We hope that that handful of five will be reduced to one at most, but even so, they are going to lose between 400 and 500 teachers in the network, which will be very difficult to find,” he said.

Couillault said schools had a lot of support and information to help persuade staff who were doubtful about vaccines to get the shots, but schools would not know if they had been successful until the deadline.

“People’s opinions about what they are going to do may change when it becomes a reality that at this time, as it is written, the 15th is a strict deadline and people at the 11th hour could change their minds because On the 16th it could, it could affect his employment, “he said.

On that date, they would not be allowed to enter the schools unless they had received at least their first vaccination and the Ministry of Education has informed the schools that unvaccinated personnel could be placed on leave without pay.

Couillault said some staff members who refused to be vaccinated said the vaccine’s mandate was not correct and that others were concerned about pre-existing medical conditions.

Federation of Principals President Perry Rush said that most elementary schools had at least one staff member who resisted vaccination, a figure that, like high schools, would equal a couple of thousand persons.

“We are certainly hearing questions coming up from some schools and I think most schools have a need to address a staff member or various staff members who might be in a position to question this on their own. So it is a problem. , we don’t hear that’s a major problem, but a problem anyway. “

Rush said that establishing whether staff were vaccinated was straightforward, but some people presented false exemption letters.

“We are seeing a lot of medical exemptions and in some cases they are provided by osteopaths, homeopaths, some doctors who publicly consider themselves anti-vax, we have had physical therapists, and in one case a midwife issued vaccine exemption certificates,” he said.

Rush said the letters were causing confusion.

He said the directors were not medical experts, so they needed explicit instructions from officials to know what they could and couldn’t accept as a valid exemption.

The Ministry of Education strongly advised schools and early learning services not to accept any medical exemptions until it and the Ministry of Health had released more advice later this week.

Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand Executive Director Kathy Wolfe told RNZ that she had only received a few inquiries from her members about “resistance.”

“There has not been a major issue among our membership ensuring that their staff have at least their first dose of the vaccine by November 15,” he said.

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